Tag Archives: A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

My favorite books of 2012

I read a lot of books this year, adult and children’s books, fiction and non-fiction, memorable books and others I’d rather forget (Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?). It was hard to narrow it down to a few favorite and of course, my choices are very subjective and personal. These are books that grabbed my attention from the first few pages, made me laugh or cry or both, made me think, or made me dream by taking me to faraway places. These are all great books in one way or another.

My favorite adult fiction books of 2012

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

1) The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry
This series includes The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son. I’ll be reviewing the last three books later this week, and in the meantime, you can read my review of The Giver here. Wonderful, wonderful futuristic stories, full of shocking discoveries, adventure, courage, survival and hope. Lois Lowry is a brilliant storyteller and I love the worlds she created. These books are great for young adults (probably age 12 and up), as well as adults, and you can read them again and again and enjoy them just as much. I think that next Christmas, I’ll be asking Santa for these four books so they become part of my personal book collection.

The book thief by Markus Zusack

The book thief by Markus Zusack

2) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This is another young adult book that is perfect for adults too. This is the only book I’ve ever read on World War II that was told from a German citizen’s perspective. This book really touched me in many ways and will stay with me forever. Just like The Giver quartet, I think it deserves its own spot on my bookshelf. You can read my review of The Book Thief here.

The hunger games by Suzanne Collins

The hunger games by Suzanne Collins

3) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I also read Catching Fire and Mockinjay but The Hunger Games was my favorite. I found the novels very dark and gruesome, but well told. Suzanne Collins is not as hopeful about the human race as Lois Lowry but she might be more realistic. Who knows what’s in our future, right? Read my review of The Hunger Games. By the way, I do have The Hunger Games trilogy on my bookcase already.

A dog's purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

A dog’s purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

4) A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron
Alright, technically I finished reading A Dog’s Purpose last December, but since I read the next book in 2012, I’m including both on this list. I loved these books and I’m not even a dog person. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed and I cried some more. If you’re looking for a feel good story, these two books are perfect. Read my reviews of A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey.

The invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

5) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Yet another book that deserves a permanent spot on my bookshelf. I have never read such an imaginative book when it comes to the way the story is told. Zelznick tells Hugo’s story by alternating between words and pencil illustrations. Unlike picture books, these detailed illustrations tell a specific part of the story instead of using words, giving a full meaning to the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Selznick is a pure genius at illustrating and storytelling. Read my review of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

My favorite adult non-fiction books of 2012

Quiet the power of introverts by Susan Cain

Quiet the power of introverts by Susan Cain

1) Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain
If you’re an introvert, you’ll want to read this book. If you’re an extravert, you’ll want to read it too so you give us introverts a break and realize we’re not a bunch of anti-social people. ;-) Read my review of Quiet: The Power of Introverts here.

Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan

Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan

2) Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan
If you want to learn more about PTSD (post-trauma syndrome disorder) specifically in U.S. soldiers, this story is it. Told in the first person, it explains the various symptoms, the possible treatments (and how our soldiers are taken care of, for better or worse) and how Tuesday, the golden retriever who was about to fail his training as a service dog, helped Montalvan when he himself was on the verge of giving up. The 5 stars by almost 1000 reviewers on Amazon say it all: this is a must read (read my review of Until Tuesday). And yes, this is the REAL Tuesday on the book cover.

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

3) The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
Miller has been a 6th-grade teacher for about 20 years and has discovered, implemented and refined ways to ignite the love of reading in her students. This book is not just a great tool for teachers but for parents too. Read my review of The Book Whisperer.

My favorite children’s books of 2012

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

1) The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson
Well, don’t you know? There’s no such thing as a gruffalo. Or, is there? These brilliantly rhyming books are meant to become children’s book classics. Read my reviews of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.

Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

2) Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed
I loved, loved, loved this book (and damn it, it made my choke up!). This is a beautiful story of loneliness and friendship children and adults will love and cherish. Read my review of Pete & Pickles.

The Last Basselope by Berkeley Breathed

The Last Basselope by Berkeley Breathed

3) The Last Basselope: One Ferocious Story by Berkeley Breathed
Berkeley Breathed may be known for his comic strip Opus, but The Last Basselope is a wonderful story about searching for the unknown, finding it, discovering its priceless value and keeping it safe from the rest of the world. Read my review of The Last Basselope.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

4) Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
This has to be one of the funniest children’s books we’ve read this year. When Oliver’s kite gets stuck in a tree, he throws everything up there, including the kitchen’s sink. My kids and I loved the silliness of this book and we laughed about it for weeks. Read my review of Stuck.

Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen

Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen

5) Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen
“I’m going to eat you for my dinner” says the big wolf to the big moose. But that’s before he realizes that Mucky Moose really, really stinks. My four-year old couldn’t get enough of this story and months later, my kids still quote the book. Read my review of Mucky Moose.

Ricky Ricotta's mighty robot by Dav Pilkey

Ricky Ricotta’s mighty robot by Dav Pilkey

6) Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot series by Dav Pilkey
This series gave my eldest his first taste of independent reading of chapter books before he reached the end of kindergarten. He’s since graduated to much longer and intense books but I’ll never forget that this series of books gave him the motivation to read on his own (I wasn’t allowed to read him the books so I read them with his brother). Read my review of Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot here.

Zen ties by Jon Muth

Zen ties by Jon Muth

7) Zen Ties and Zen Shorts by Jon Muth
Muth’s watercolors are simply beautiful and his stories teach children about the principles of Zen Buddhism in a very simple way. Stillwater the giant panda is a wonderful teacher. Read my review of Zen Ties.

Back to school for rotten ralph by Jack Bantos

Back to school for rotten ralph by Jack Bantos

8) The Rotten Ralph books by Jack Bantos
Rotten Ralph is everything you don’t want your kids to be and so, kids love him! Rotten Ralph is a really rotten cat and you wonder if he’ll ever show kindness and consideration for others. Deep underneath that rotten attitude, Rotten Ralph may actually have a heart and a conscience. This is a very funny series that will make you laugh out loud. Read my reviews of several Rotten Ralph books here.

What books have you read this year that turned out to be your favorite? Anything I should put on my to-read list for 2013?

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WWW Wednesdays – June 13, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

My bookshelf

 The Enchantress by Michael Scott– What I’m currently reading
The Enchantress by Michael Scott, the last in the series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. It’s 500 pages long, due at the library in six days and I already know I can’t renew it. I also have to read Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James for my book club meeting at the end of the month. Since I got my copy from a friend who hasn’t read the book yet, I need to give it back to her by next week. Did I say it was another 500-page book? HELP!
 
– What I recently finished reading

A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron, the sequel to his bestseller A Dog’s Purpose. A Dog’s Purpose was one of my favorite books in 2011 and this one will make it to my 2012 favorites list. I wasn’t sure how the author would be able to pull off the sequel, after such an interesting initial storytelling twist. I mean, how many times can you reincarnate a dog without running out of steam? Well, Cameron did it and I gulped it all the way down to the last page, laughing, crying, feeling inspired, over and over. And I’m not even a dog person. Brilliant storytelling that makes us care about the characters, the story, and life in general. A MUST READ!
 
 – What I think I’ll read next
Hopefully I won’t need to return this book before I’m done reading it, but I’m planning to read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares.
 
My kids’ bookshelf

Chalk by Bill ThomsonWhat they’re currently reading
Chalk by Bill Thomson. This beautifully illustrated wordless book tells the story of three children visiting a playground, finding some chalk, and drawing pictures that come to life, including a lifesize Tyrannosaurus Rex. Yikes!
Flap Your Wings by P.D. Eastman. A boy finds an egg without a nest and puts it in a nest without an egg. Mr and Mrs Bird think the egg is a little big but take care of it. When it hatches, surprise, it’s a baby alligator! But the birds do their parental duty and keep feeding him until he’s too big for the nest. All he has to do then is “flap his wings” to leave…
Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent by Lauren Child. Hubert Horatio is a prodigal child but his wealthy parents happen to be terrible spenders and about to lose the family estate. Hubert sets off to find a way to convince his parents to become more thrifty and save what little money they have left. A great lesson in money management, showing what can really happen when you blow it all.

What they recently finished reading
Dear Fish by Chris Gall. While at the beach, a small boy writes an invitation to the fish to come for a visit, puts the paper in a bottle and throws it into the ocean. What comes next is a little more than he expected. 
No David! and David Gets in Trouble by David Shannon. David is a young boy who likes to get in trouble but figures out a way to apologize by the end of the day. This is the second time we’re borrowing the David books from the library and my kids can’t get enough of them.

– What I think they’ll read next
I have no idea! What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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WWW Wednesdays – June 6, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

My bookshelf

A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

– What I’m currently reading

A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron, the sequel to his bestseller A Dog’s Purpose, one of the BEST books I read last year. I read the first three chapters last night and I couldn’t put it down, but I figured I did enough crying for one night. I can’t wait to see what happens to Buddy in his new brand life!
 
– What I recently finished reading

Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan. I really enjoyed reading this book, even though some parts were tough (the horrors of war) and others made me angry (the lack of strategy during the war, the VA’s poor treatment of PTSD and our soldiers’ health and minds overall, the discrimination against service dogs and the disabled, etc). Montalvan is a true soldier, courageous in the field and on the street. Even though he’s not part of the Army anymore, he continues to fight for his fellow veterans, their rights and their well-being. And Tuesday… Well, he’s Tuesday and he’s perfect, unaware of how much he’s done to save a lost veteran and give him traction again.  Everyone should read this book to understand the struggles our soldiers go through when they come back from combat wounded and confused.
 
 – What I think I’ll read next
The Enchantress by Michael Scott, the fifth and last (GASP!) installment of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. I really want to know how it all ends, but I really don’t want it to end!
 
My kids’ bookshelf

What they’re currently reading

The duckling gets a cookie by Mo Willems

The duckling gets a cookie by Mo Willems

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems. Willems’ famous pigeon is very angry when the duckling gets a cookie just by asking politely. The ending is hilarious! The duckling kindly gives his cookie to Pigeon, but that’s because it has nuts and the duckling doesn’t like nuts!
Dinosaur Cove – Attack of the Tyrannosaurus Rex by Rex Stone. I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this book but my kids love it. What’s not to love about two boys who discover a secret entrance to a prehistoric world filled with dinosaurs at the back of a cave? This happens to be the first in the series so we’ll be reading more of them soon. The book is at the third-grade reading level but my kindergartner reads it with me out loud. An interesting topic is the key when it comes to reading!

What they recently finished reading
– We’re gadly revisiting the wonderful Mercy Watson books by the brilliant Kate DiCamillo. The illustrations are so perfect for the text, it makes reading time a delight! My favorite books so far have to be Mercy Watson Fights Crime and Mercy Watson – Something Wonky This Way Comes. Both feature Leroy Ninker, a small man who longs to be a cowboy but can’t help himself being a thief…
– I know I’ve mentioned these books before but we’re reading them again since  they’re so good and worth sharing. Regis Faller, a talented French comic strip author, entertains us with his Polo the dog books, where imagination and creativity flow, mostly wordless. My kids love to love at the books and narrate the story strip by strip. So far we’ve read The Adventures of Polo, Polo and The Dragon, Polo and Lily, and  Polo and the Runaway Book.

– What I think they’ll read next
We still have lots of unread library books and still more are coming in – not a dull moment. What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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WWW Wednesdays – May 30, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

My bookshelf

Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan– What I’m currently reading
Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan and  Bret Witter. I’m about a third into it and have learned how Tuesday was trained to be a service dog from Day 3 of his life. I’m now learning about Montalvan’s time in the Army and his service in Iraq. He sure doesn’t have many nice things to say about military generals and the politics behind this war in general. Quite an interesting, first-hand perspective. And yes, that’s the real Tuesday on the book’s front cover. Doesn’t he look like the coolest dog?
 
– What I recently finished reading

Mermaids in the Basement by Michael Lee West. After reading the hilarious and delightful Gone With a Handsomer Man, this book was a little disappointing. The main character is supposed to dig up some unknown information about her family’s past but by the end, nothing discovered was that earth-chattering. This is still an entertaining read, but not West’s best.
 
 – What I think I’ll read next
A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron, the sequel to his bestseller A Dog’s Purpose. I loved the first book so much, I can’t wait to read this one!
 
My kids’ bookshelf

Wow! Ocean! by Robert NeubeckerWhat they’re currently reading
Wow! Ocean! by Robert Neubecker. The latest release in Neubecker’s Wow! series is EXCELLENT! This time Lizzy and her little sister go around the world’s oceans, where they meet lots of underwater sea creatures (all are labeled so you get to see different types of whales, turtles, seashells, etc). We love it and I think this is the best one in the series.
Secret Agent Splat! by Robert Scotton. Scotton’s newest Splat adventure features a search for disappearing wooden ducks. I love Rob Scotton’s sense of humor and my kids can’t get enough of this story.
Mr Putter & Tabby Spill the Beans by Cynthia Rylant. We’re re-reading the Mr Putter & Tabby books since they’re one of our favorite series. In this one, Mr. Putter and his cat Tabby attend a cooking class with Mrs. Teaberry and her dog Zeke  to learn 100 ways to cook beans. It doesn’t take long for the beans to spill! I love Rylant’s writing style and the hilarious illustrations always are a perfect match.

What they recently finished reading
That Pesky Rat by Lauren Child (famous for her Charlie & Lola books and TV series). A brown street rat longs to be someone’s pet and have his very own name, so he asks the pet shop owner to let him post a for-sale sign. Lucky for him, an old man with extremely poor eyesight is interested in buying this “cat” (it sure read like cat on the sign!).
Goldie and the Three Hares by Margie Palatini. As Goldilocks runs away from the three bears, she falls down a rabbit hole and hurts her foot. The family of hares tries to help her but Goldie happens to be quite a demanding, borderline obnoxious, guest they can’t wait to get rid of.
Spot It!  and Spot It Again! by Delphine Chedru. In both books created by a French illustrator, kids have to find the animals hidden in colorful patterns. Both my kids love these books, even though you’d think they’re too old for them. I think it’s because everything is very well hidden, small, and hard to find.

– What I think they’ll read next
We have so many books from the library to still read, I’m sure we’ve got lots of good reading ahead of us. What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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